Lately it's hard to make it through the day without hearing a reference to AI 'changing everything', isn't it? And it's no longer in that creepy Black Mirror, create-an-avatar-of-your-dead-loved-one-way. Chatbots are everywhere. The other day a therapist friend told me that she dreamed her job was taken over by an AI bot and I couldn't blame her. Computers and robots coming for jobs is far from a new problem. But a few years back I wouldn't have guessed it would be keeping therapists up at night. Now, with text-based online therapy and the chatbot revolution, AI grief support kicking therapists to the curb doesn't feel quite so far-fetched!
Her dream got me wondering, how good is an AI chatbot at providing grief support these days? Sure, you can have your loved one's obituary written by an AI bot. But could grief support be any good? Only one way to find out.
I headed over to ChatGPT, one of the more popular AI chatbots flooding TikTok. Below you'll find the 'conversation' the ChatGPT and I had about grief.
(Brace yourself . . . AI bots *might* be better at saying the right thing than some of your friends are).
Me: Hey there, ChatGPT. I'm grieving. What should I do?
ChatGPT: I'm sorry to hear that you're going through a difficult time. Grief is a natural and normal response to loss, and it can be a very challenging and painful experience. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful for you:
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions. It's important to give yourself permission to feel the range of emotions that come with grief, including sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion. Don't try to suppress or ignore these feelings, as they are a natural part of the healing process.
- Take care of yourself physically. Grief can be physically exhausting, so it's important to prioritize your physical health. Try to eat nutritious meals, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly, even if it's just going for a walk.
- Seek support from others. Grief can be a lonely experience, but it's important to reach out to others for support. Talk to friends, family members, or a counselor about your feelings and experiences. You can also consider joining a support group for people who are grieving.
- Engage in self-care activities. It's important to take time for yourself and engage in activities that you enjoy. This might include reading, writing, drawing, listening to music, or spending time in nature.
- Be patient with yourself. Grief is a process that takes time, and there is no "right" way to grieve. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself to move through the process at your own pace.
Remember, everyone grieves differently, so it's important to find what works best for you. If you're struggling to cope with your grief, don't hesitate to seek professional help from a counselor or therapist.
Me: I am feeling anger and guilt and I don't want to feel those things anymore.
ChapGPT: It's understandable that you might feel overwhelmed by the anger and guilt you're experiencing, and it's okay to want to find a way to manage those emotions. Here are some suggestions that might help:
Allow yourself to feel your emotions. It's important to give yourself permission to feel your emotions, even if they are uncomfortable. Trying to suppress or ignore your emotions can lead to more intense feelings later on.
Identify the source of your emotions. Try to identify what specifically is causing your anger and guilt. Is it related to the loss you're grieving, or is it related to something else? Understanding the source of your emotions can help you find ways to address them.
Practice self-compassion. It's easy to be hard on yourself when you're feeling angry or guilty, but it's important to remember that these are normal emotions that many people experience when grieving. Practice self-compassion by treating yourself with kindness and understanding.
Talk to someone. Sometimes, talking to someone else about your feelings can help you process them and feel less alone. Consider reaching out to a friend, family member, or therapist who can provide support.
Consider forgiveness. If your guilt is related to something you did or didn't do, consider practicing self-forgiveness or asking for forgiveness from others involved. Forgiveness can help release some of the negative emotions you're experiencing.
Remember, grief is a process and it takes time to work through the range of emotions that come with it. Be patient with yourself and know that it's okay to ask for help if you need it.
Me: I can't bear the thought that I'll never see them again.
ChatGPT: It's understandable to feel overwhelming sadness and a sense of loss when you're grieving someone who has passed away. It's natural to miss them and to feel like you'll never see them again.
Here are some suggestions that might help:
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions. It's important to give yourself permission to feel your emotions, including sadness and loss. Trying to suppress or ignore your emotions can lead to more intense feelings later on.
- Focus on positive memories. While it's natural to miss the person you've lost, it can be helpful to focus on positive memories you shared with them. Consider creating a scrapbook or journal of memories that you can look back on when you're feeling sad.
- Connect with others. It can be helpful to talk to others who knew the person you've lost and share memories and stories with them. This can help you feel less alone in your grief and honor the person's memory.
- Consider spiritual or religious practices. Many people find comfort in spiritual or religious practices, such as prayer or meditation, when they're grieving.
- Seek professional help. If you're struggling to cope with your grief and it's affecting your ability to function in daily life, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a counselor or therapist. They can provide support and guidance to help you work through your emotions and find ways to cope.
Remember that grief is a process and it takes time to work through the range of emotions that come with it. Be patient with yourself and know that it's okay to ask for help if you need it.
Me: If I talk to a therapist as you suggest, what will they be able to tell me that you can't tell me?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I can provide information, guidance, and suggestions based on my programming and training, but I do not have the ability to understand your specific emotions or experiences in the same way that a human being can.
When you talk to a trusted friend, family member, or therapist, they can provide emotional support and empathy that can be difficult to replicate through an AI-based conversation. They can also help you explore your thoughts and feelings more deeply, offer personalized advice and guidance, and help you develop coping strategies that are tailored to your specific situation.
Additionally, talking to someone can help you feel less isolated and alone in your grief, which can be an important part of the healing process. While I can provide general suggestions and guidance on coping with grief, having a human connection and support system can be invaluable when working through difficult emotions.
Me: Have you ever grieved?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I am not capable of experiencing emotions or having personal experiences like human beings do, so I cannot say that I have ever grieved. However, I have been trained on a vast amount of data related to grief and loss, and I have access to information and resources that may be helpful to those who are experiencing grief.
Me: What is the closest thing to grief that you do experience?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, I do not have emotions or the ability to experience personal events, so I cannot experience grief or anything that would be comparable to it. However, I am designed to recognize and understand different emotions and provide information and guidance related to them.
Me: Will I ever get over my grief?
ChatGPT: The experience of grief is different for everyone and there is no "right" way to grieve. It's important to understand that grief is a process and that it can take time to work through the range of emotions that come with it. While the intensity of grief may lessen over time, it's common for people to continue to feel a sense of loss or sadness even after many years.
It's important to remember that grief is not something that can be "cured" or "fixed." Rather, it's a natural response to loss that can be managed over time. It's possible to learn to live with your grief and find ways to cope with the emotions that come with it. This may involve seeking support from friends, family members, or a therapist, engaging in self-care activities, and finding ways to honor the memory of the person or thing you've lost.
While the pain of grief may never completely go away, it's possible to find meaning and purpose in life again and move forward in a positive way. The key is to be patient with yourself and allow yourself to feel your emotions as you work through the grieving process.
Me: How do I find meaning and purpose in life again and move forward in a positive way?
ChatGPT: Finding meaning and purpose in life after experiencing loss can be a challenging process, but it is possible with time and effort. Here are some suggestions that may be helpful:
- Take time for self-care: Take care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally. This might involve getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy.
- Seek support: It's important to surround yourself with people who care about you and can offer emotional support. This might include friends, family members, or a therapist.
- Explore new interests: Trying new things can help you find new sources of joy and fulfillment. Consider exploring a new hobby, learning a new skill, or volunteering for a cause that is important to you.
- Create new memories: While it's natural to cherish memories of the person or thing you've lost, it's also important to create new memories and experiences. This might involve traveling, spending time with loved ones, or trying new activities.
- Find meaning through helping others: Many people find a sense of purpose and fulfillment through helping others. Consider volunteering or getting involved in your community in some way.
Remember that everyone's journey to finding meaning and purpose after loss is different, and it's important to be patient with yourself and take things one day at a time. If you're struggling to cope, consider reaching out for professional support from a therapist or counselor.
Me: Some of my friends and family have done a bad job supporting me in my grief. What should I do?
ChatGPT: It can be difficult when people in your life do not provide the support you need during a time of grief. Here are some suggestions for what you can do:
- Communicate your needs: People may not always know how to support you unless you communicate what you need. Try to be clear and specific about what kind of support you are looking for. For example, you might say, "I really appreciate it when you listen to me talk about my feelings" or "It would be helpful if you could check in on me regularly."
- Seek support elsewhere: If your friends and family are not providing the support you need, consider seeking support from other sources. This might include support groups, online communities, or a therapist.
- Set boundaries: If someone in your life is being unsupportive or even harmful to your grief process, it may be necessary to set boundaries with that person. This might involve limiting contact or being clear about what behaviors are not acceptable.
- Be kind to yourself: Remember that grieving is a process, and it's okay to take time for yourself and prioritize your own needs. Be kind to yourself and seek out the support you need, even if it means taking a break from certain relationships.
It's important to remember that everyone experiences grief differently, and not everyone in your life may know how to support you in the way that you need. Try to be patient and compassionate with yourself and others as you navigate this difficult time.
Me: Grief is such a terrible experience. Wouldn't the world be better if we didn't have to grieve?
ChatGPT: While grief can be a difficult and painful experience, it's important to remember that it's a natural and normal response to loss. Grief is a way for us to process and come to terms with the reality of what we have lost, and it's a necessary part of the healing process.
While it's natural to wish that we could avoid the pain of grief, it's important to recognize that it's a part of the human experience. Avoiding grief would mean not experiencing the deep love and connections that we have with others, and that would be a great loss in itself. In many ways, the experience of grief is a testament to the depth of our emotional lives and our capacity for connection and love.
That being said, it's important to recognize that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and it's okay to seek out support and resources to help you navigate this difficult experience. With time and effort, it is possible to find a sense of healing and peace after loss.
Me: How will I know if I'm getting better?
ChatGPT: Grieving is a unique and individual process, and there is no set timeline for how long it takes to feel better. However, there are some signs that may indicate that you are beginning to heal and move forward:
- You're able to experience positive emotions: Over time, you may find that you're able to experience positive emotions such as joy, happiness, and contentment again, even if they're mixed with feelings of sadness or loss.
- You're able to find meaning and purpose: As you begin to heal, you may find that you're able to find meaning and purpose in your life again, even in the face of loss.
- You're able to remember your loved one without intense pain: While you may always feel a sense of sadness or longing for your loved one, over time, you may find that you're able to remember them without feeling overwhelmed by pain or sadness.
- You're able to maintain daily activities: As you begin to heal, you may find that you're able to maintain your daily routines and activities again, such as work or hobbies.
It's important to remember that the grieving process is unique to each individual, and there is no "right" way to grieve or heal. It's okay to take your time and go at your own pace. If you're struggling to cope or feel like you're not making progress, consider reaching out to a therapist or counselor for support.
Me: If you're designed to recognize and understand different emotions and provide information and guidance related to them, why would I bother talking to a therapist or counselor?
ChatGPT: As an AI language model, my main purpose is to provide general information and guidance related to different emotions and experiences, such as grief. However, while I can offer support and guidance, I am not a substitute for a trained mental health professional such as a therapist or counselor.
Therapists and counselors are trained to provide personalized support and guidance based on your unique circumstances and needs. They can work with you to develop coping strategies, offer a safe and non-judgmental space to explore difficult emotions, and provide support and guidance as you navigate your grief.
Additionally, therapists and counselors can provide ongoing support and help you develop a plan for long-term healing and growth. While speaking with an AI language model can be helpful in providing general information and support, a trained mental health professional can offer more individualized and comprehensive support.
Well, what do you think? Not bad, right? Is AI grief counseling the next big thing?
We here at WYG are going to take *some* credit. I'm sure our huge grief library here is part of what ChatGPT has been combing for grief intel! Or maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better. Either way, I'm glad to see that ChatGPT still seems to think talking to real-life humans is a good idea.
If you're looking to connect with other sentient beings who are grieving, you're in luck. You can always join our private life after loss community. It is moderated and facilitated by grief professionals who've had their own losses. We offer a community forum, grief webinars, writing groups, a grief book club, and more. Find the details here for our life after loss support community.
We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.
We wrote a book!
After writing online articles for What’s Your Grief
for over a decade, we finally wrote a tangible,
What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss is for people experiencing any type of loss. This book discusses some of the most common grief experiences and breaks down psychological concepts to help you understand your thoughts and emotions. It also shares useful coping tools, and helps the reader reflect on their unique relationship with grief and loss.
You can find What’s Your Grief? Lists to Help you Through Any Loss wherever you buy books: